So I’ve read this. And it is extremely good.
I’m uncertain whether I will ever read the other 4 parts of an inquiry into the nature and causes of the Wealth of Nations but I thought I’d post this here. No doubt much of this is outdated, his view on the origins of money alongside his insistence that value ultimately derives from labour but its really the foundational work of much of economics. I was quite suprised with the extent of which he knew, the amount of facts throughout - for example, amusing tales of kings who had tried to become more wealthy via skimping out on the amount of gold in their coinages! He talks alot about the division of labour, the market and the “natural price”, of difference between countries wealth generally. its often said that this magnum opus undermines or distracts people from his success as a moral philosopher - and maybe this is true (I have yet to read this side of his stuff).
He talks overwhelmingly about how the division of labour is the major driving factor in the accumilation of wealth, but warns that it can turn a man into a dull creature devoid of life and he notes the contradiction between the worker to do less for more, and bosses to want more for less. “of masters and men” and how their is an inequality of bargaining power. He treats all subjects with nuance and makes a clear case for the benefits of a limited market economy in which a mans self interest can end up benefiting others. Hes no pure capitalist, although capitalism in his era was a revolutionary prospect, but is concerned with the economics of the welfare and prosperity of nations. He gives lots of good examples of government restrictions and tariffs hindering the population whilst remaining skeptical about the interests of labour and capital - which are interrelated and dependent on one and other. An interesting read, this 200 pages or so, and the next 300 or so I may have to get to at a later date. Very readable for its subject, which is one I’m a bit slow going on.